"Masterful handling of sound colours"
– Wilhelm Kvist, Hufvudstadsbladet
"Raasakka's music has character and strength"
– Jukka Isopuro, Helsingin Sanomat
– Samuli Tiikkaja, Helsingin Sanomat
"The world premiere by Ville Raasakka picks up to denounce the lack of forest protection in Finland. 'The Harvest' lets a chainsaw massacre roar."
–Christoph Irrgeher, Wiener Zeitung
"An independent and convincing voice"
– Michael Rebhahn, Neue Zeitschirft für Musik
Photo by Quiet / Juha Törmälä
Ville Aslak Raasakka (1977-) is a Helsinki-based Finnish composer specialized in ecology. His works incorporate field recordings from Finnish coal power plants, Pennsylvania coal mines, British oil rigs, packaging materials, pesticides, forest logging in Finland and from the seafloor of the Baltic sea.
In 2019, his orchestral work received a recommendation at the Unesco Rostrum of Composers (Argentina). His music is published by Universal Edition (Wien, London, New York) and Donemus publishing (The Hague).
His works are performed by the Klangforum Wien (Vienna), der/gelbe/klang (Munich), Mise-en Ensemble (New York) and Dal Niente (Chicago) at festivals including Eclat (Stuttgart), Festival Archipel (Geneva), Festival de Royaumont (France), Gaudeamus Muziekweek (Utrecht), Klang festival (Copenhagen), the June in Buffalo (University of Buffalo) and the Tage der Neuen Musik Bamberg.
Raasakka is a composition teacher at the Department of Composition and Music Theory of the Sibelius Academy (University of the Arts Helsinki), where he also researches ecological practices (doctoral research) and works in the ecological steering group.
The Harvest (2022) 10'
for Chamber Orchestra
Commissioned and premiered by the Klangforum Wien and Nyky Ensemble, conducted by Bas Wiegers
Premiere 16th March 2022
Wiener Konzerthaus, Mozart-saal
An estimated 5% of Finnish forests are old-growth forests, which have a healthy biodiversity of species. Half of these old-growth forests are protected, and the remainder is relentlessly being cut down by the government for easy profit, only to be stopped by the interventions of nature protection agencies.
The current forest machines cut trees in frightening effectivity, within seconds. I've used the sounds of these machines and transcribed them to the instruments. The moaning of the hydraulics, the buzzing of the saws and the beeping of the control panels are the key sound elements of the work.
The effectivity of these sounds dissolve, and sink into a state of disbelief. This music is mourning the total loss of natural biodiversity, and the resulting constant extinction of species. The clear-cut forests never regain their biodiversity again, and we are left with lifeless tree farms. Pretending an image of a forest.
Steam Engine (2022) 20'
for Soprano and Baroque Orchestra
Commissioned and premiered by
Olga Heikkilä and the Finnish Baroque Orchestra
Premiere 24th April 2022
The House of Nobility
The mass production of steam engines has been marked as the beginning of climate change in environmental research. The steam engine not only operated with coal, but enabled the extensive mining of coal. The Atmospheric Engine, developed and patented by Thomas Newcomen in 1712 in Cornwall was the first mass produced steam engine.
This composition is connected to this particular place and time. To the sounds produced by the Newcomen steam engine, and to a composer based in London in 1712, Georg Friedrich Händel.
The texts in the work are historical accounts on steam engines, coal mining and coal burning in Britain between 1661-1842. These include court hearings of workers in coal mines, reports of air quality in London and machine-romanticist poetry on steam engines.
I’ve used sound recordings of the historical steam engines as a starting point for the composition. The orchestra reproduces the sounds of the steam engine with the baroque instruments, and flash-like citations from Händel appear. Olga Heikkilä, soprano and commissioner of this work, recorded numerous readings of the texts, and the recodings, our workshops and Olga’s voice form the basis for the vocal expression of this work.
The resulting work is a hybrid of instrumental concrete music and dramatic baroque cantata. The sopranos expression ranges from microtonal singing to sprechgesang, and from a human narrator to a living, breathing steam engine.